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Marketing the Movies: Promotion, Advertising and Film Studies

A conference at the University of Warwick, Humanities Research Centre, 24 Feb 2007


More so than many other art forms, films exist primarily as commercial entities, with for-profit enterprises producing and distributing the vast majority of the works which are seen in the world. Selling these products to audiences often entails more money (and some would say, creativity) than goes into the production of the films themselves. Despite the prominence in film culture of movie posters, theatrical trailers, and television commercials for upcoming releases, relatively little research has been done within film studies on film marketing itself. Promotion has heretofore been used mainly as a supplementary component of reception studies, with materials such as studio guidebooks or staged promotional events being typically presented as constituting "useful evidence as to how the company involved viewed the film at the time," to quote Colin McArthur, or helping to describe the journalistic reception of the films in question.

This conference sought to break from this pattern and instead shifted the critical focus to the materials and practices themselves, treating them as the object of study while also reflecting on the ways in which they can, and should, be used as research resources. How does promotion go about getting people to see movies? How has it functioned throughout the history of the medium? How does it work in different national and cultural contexts? These were among the questions that the event went some ways towards answering.

Speakers at the event included: Dr. Vinzenz Hediger from the University of Bochum, author of Verführung zum Film. Der amerikanische Kinotrailer seit 1912 and numerous other works in English and in German on the film trailer amongst other things; Professor Sarah Street from the University of Bristol, author of many volumes on British film history, including British National Cinema and Transatlantic Crossings: British Feature Films in the United States; and Professor. Dina Iordanova from St. Andrew's University who has published widely on Eastern European cinemas and is beginning work on a major research project on the film festival.

To view a podcast interview with the event organiser Chris Meir, click here. Use the links in the left hand navigation pane to read the abstracts of the papers presented and the HRC conference report. If there is anything further you wish to find out about the conference please contact Chris Meir (c.t.meir@warwick.ac.uk).